Monthly Archives: September 2018

The Devil

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

A 2003 Gallup poll concluded that 70% of Americans believe in the existence of the Devil.[1] A 2009 Barna survey stated, “A minority of Christians indicated that they believe Satan is real by disagreeing with the statement,”[2] i.e., that Satan is a real entity. I could not find a more recent survey, but my observation tells me that most either do not believe in the existence of the Devil or they are unaware or indifferent of his existence. On the darker side, there is a rise in Satan worship and the occult.[3]

Regardless of survey results or prevailing thought, Satan – the Devil, Lucifer, the Serpent the Dragon, the Accuser – exists. The Bible introduces him first as the conniving serpent in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1).[4] The Book of Job identifies him as the Adversary (Job 1:6; 2:1) – “Satan” means “opponent or adversary.” Isaiah describes his pride and arrogance and his elevated position among God’s angels before his fall (Isaiah 14:12-15). The prophet Ezekiel offers a similar description (Ezekiel 28:11-19).

That the Devil is powerful is clear. However, his power is limited; he is not omnipotent (all-powerful) like God. He is not omniscient; therefore, he has to guess at what God will do. He knows the Bible better than most highly educated theologians do, but he cannot discern God’s ultimate plan; although he realizes his time is growing short.

The Devil is not omnipresent. He is a created being; therefore, he is constrained by time. God’s transcendence allows Him to exist both outside of time and at every point within time (past, present, future) simultaneously. The Devil cannot do that. The Devil must operate in the present, and he can only be in one place at a time. However, who knows how many demons he has working for him! To say, “The Devil made me do it” is probably a false accusation.

The Devil and his angels are immortal; therefore, they know a lot of “history” which is why they can reveal things about people in the past to “psychics.” However, they can only guess at the future.

All that said, the Devil is not to be trifled with. He hates God, and he hates God’s most prized creation – you and me. More than that, he hates God’s people – Christians and Jews – and he wants to do all he can to destroy them. He also thinks he can overthrow God. He thinks that by destroying God’s people, or by attempting to thwart God’s prophetic promises, that he can somehow subvert God. For such an intelligent creature, he really is stupid.

We need not fear the Devil. The Bible assures us that “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Our leading verse reminds us that we must be “sober.” The Greek word nēphō means to “abstain from wine,” but it implies that we must keep a clear mind. There are many things besides drugs and alcohol that can cloud our thinking – anything that dominates our thoughts at the exclusion of God qualifies as insobriety. We must be “vigilant.” The Greek word there is grēgoreuō, and it means to be “watchful,” to be “on guard.” We are not watchful when the things of this world – things that are insignificant in the light of eternity – constantly and consistently distract us.

The Devil “walks around” (because he is not omnipresent) looking for whom he can devour. Christians cannot be eternally destroyed by the Devil, but he can surely make a mess of our lives if we let him. Therefore, we must be “sober” and “vigilant” and resist him when we remain “stedfast in the faith.” The Devil is a formidable opponent but not unbeatable. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7, emphasis mine).

Notes:


[1] “The Devil and the Demographic Details”  https://news.gallup.com/poll/7858/devil-demographic-details.aspx

[2]  “Most American Christians Do Not Believe that Satan or the Holy Spirit Exist” https://www.barna.com/research/most-american-christians-do-not-believe-that-satan-or-the-holy-spirit-exist/

[3]  “What the Hell? Satan worship on rise in America” https://www.rt.com/op-ed/357523-what-hell-satan-worship-america/

[4]  “Why Satan?” https://erniecarrasco.com/2014/11/02/why-satan/

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Filed under Christianity, Religion, Apologetics, Satan

How Long, O Lord?

And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? (Revelation 6:9-10)

I still have my head on my shoulders. I have not lost it or even had the threat of losing it over my faith in Christ. The verse above describes the Tribulation saints martyred for their faith. However, it makes me wonder about the many of our brethren that have died for their faith in other parts of the world. Are they asking the same question? “How long, O Lord do you not judge and avenge our blood?”

I have nothing about which to complain. I see persecution of Christians increasing in our nation, but it has not reached the level of imprisonments or beheadings – yet. Still, I wonder, “How long, O Lord?” How long must we wait for Jesus to come and call us home? How long until He returns to earth with His saints to set up His early kingdom for a thousand years? How long before we can experience true peace on earth? How long, O Lord?

The stage is set. Israel dwells in relative peace in her land of “unwalled villages” (Ezekiel 38:11). She has been there for 70 years. Because of her presence, the desert rejoices and blossoms as a rose” (Isaiah 35:1). Seventy Jubilees have passed since Moses received the commandment on Mt Sinai (Leviticus 25:10). Russia, Turkey, and Iran position themselves for the war described in Ezekiel 38-39. There have been “signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring” (Luke 21:25). In reality, not much else needs to be fulfilled. How long, O Lord?

Last week, the Feast of Trumpets came and went uneventfully. I really hoped to hear the Lord shout, “Come up hither” (Revelation 4:1), but nothing. Nothing says the Lord must come at the Feast of Trumpets or any other “special” time, for that matter. However, as I have written before, there is a good reason to consider these “high watch” days. This week brings the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:26-32) which is immediately followed by the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:33-44). These are “Feasts of the Lord.” They are His divine appointments; therefore, it is not unreasonable to consider these days more likely than any others. However, we need to keep in mind Jesus’ words, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). Some debate about what that really means. The fact remains that we do not know. So, we wait. The time is near, but how long, O Lord?

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, End Times, Religion, Second Coming of Christ

Still Listening Again

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).

Every year for at least the last decade – ever since I learned about the Feasts of the Lord[1] – around this time of year, I start getting a little anxious with excitement wondering if this will be the year that Jesus will call His bride home.[2], [3], [4], [5], [6] This Monday, September 10, the Feast of Trumpets comes around again. For those of us who look forward to the Rapture of the Church, this is a “high watch” day. The reason for this, as I have explained in the past, is because this is the next Feast not fulfilled by Jesus’ First Advent. Therefore, it stands to reason that Rosh Hashanah (the Feast of Trumpets) would be a good time for Jesus to summon His Bride, the Church, home. Every year as I have waited, the day has come and gone, and we are still here. You might think that eventually I would experience “Rapture Fatigue” and give up on the whole idea. However, I still have oil in my lamp and even some extra! (Matthew 25:4)

Some will criticize and remind us that Jesus said, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). The Rapture is imminent. It could happen at any time, and we ought always to be ready. Nothing prophetically remains unfulfilled for this event to take place. Israel celebrated her 70th rebirthday this past May. We live in the generation that witnessed the “fig tree” bud (Matthew 24:32-33). This year wraps up the 70th Year of Jubilee since Moses gave the ordinance 3500 years ago. Israel is the focal point of end-times prophecy, so our attention must focus on current events in the Middle East. The stage is being set for what “prophecy watchers” call the “Ezekiel 38-39 War.” At the time of this writing, Russia, Turkey, and Iran are meeting concerning their involvement in Syria. Damascus almost resembles the ruinous heap described in Isaiah 17:1.

Will these things happen before or after the Rapture? We cannot tell. No man knows the day or the hour, but we sense that the time is near. Will the Rapture take place at the Feast of Trumpets? Perhaps. The Feast of Trumpets is celebrated over two days because it is based on the verified appearance of the new moon. Since the exact time of the appearance cannot be accurately predicted, the Feast of Trumpets is known as the feast of which “no man knows the day or the hour.” This year the watch is set for Monday and Tuesday, September 10 & 11 beginning at sundown on Sunday, September 9 (the date of this posting).

Will Jesus call for His Bride in the coming weeks? I do not know, but I hope so, and I am ready! How about you? If you are unsure, read my pages on “Securing Eternal Life” and on “Heaven.”

Notes:


[1]  “Rosh HaShanah” https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/10/03/rosh-hashanah/

[2]  “Still Waiting!” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/09/24/still-waiting/

[3]  “Now’s A Good Time!” https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/09/17/nows-a-good-time/

[4]  “Coming Soon!” https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/07/09/coming-soon/

[5]  “Rosh HaShanah”  https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/10/03/rosh-hashanah/

[6]  “Still Listening” https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/09/20/still-listening/

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Current Events, End Times, Evangelism, Gospel, Religion, Second Coming of Christ, Theology

Artificial Fertilization

For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. (John 6:33)

I received the following question last week, and, even though this is not the kind of question I typically respond to, I thought I should at least make an effort to give an answer. The inquirer asked:

Is Artificial Insemination right or wrong? Are there scriptures that can be used to either support or be against it? As Africa is working on catching up with the west, these are some of the Issues so foreign in our culture, but we have to deal with, much more deal with rightly especially for those who profess to be followers of Christ.

Although this individual asked specifically about artificial insemination, there are several methods for treating infertility problems. The writer seemed concerned for those who are followers of Christ, so my response assumed the context of a married, heterosexual, couple. There are moral issues for homosexual couples using these methods to produce children that I do not care to address since I have covered those matters in previous posts. [1],[2],[3],[4]  Therefore, my response addresses Christian concerns.

The most common method of artificial fertilization is intrauterine insemination. This method takes sperm from the husband, by a variety of means, and injects it into the wife’s uterus when she is ovulating. Except for the fact that this circumvents God’s design for childbearing, the redeeming factor is that the couple is husband and wife. Sometimes, for one reason or another, the husband cannot produce sperm. In this case, the couple may be tempted to find a sperm donor. Finding a donor who is not the husband, I think, goes far beyond the will of God, as I will explain later.

The Bible does not have anything to say about artificial fertilization. Obviously, such techniques did not exist when the Bible was written. However, there are principles taught in the Bible that should guide the believer (through the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit) in determining what is right or wrong about this procedure. Ultimately, it is a matter of conscience for the individuals undergoing the procedure.

A second method of artificial fertilization is in vitro fertilization. This method takes ovum from the wife, and the technicians inject them with sperm from the husband resulting in several fertilized eggs – zygotes. This procedure is often used because, for one reason or another, the wife has trouble getting pregnant. The technicians then place the fertilized eggs in the mother’s uterus in hopes that at least one will “take.”

Some things a Christian couple should think about when considering undergoing any of these procedures. (1) The Bible repeatedly asserts that God is the One who gives life. Only God gives life, so the life resulting from artificial fertilization is God-given albeit through human intervention. Humans cannot give or create life – only God does that. (2) Often, in the process of in vitro fertilization, extra embryos are created in the procedure for use at a later time, if the first attempt fails. Sometimes the procedure results in multiple births. Often, not all of the embryos resulting from the procedure are used, and the question arises of what to do with the unused embryos. At some point, someone must decide what to do with the remaining embryos – either keep them or destroy them. Here is where the real problem arises. Those embryos are tiny, not-fully-formed yet 100%, human beings. They are life that God has created; therefore, only God has the right to take that life. When that life is destroyed by man, the act, from God’s perspective, is murder (Genesis 9:5-6; Exodus 20:13).

From my perspective, the problem of infertility should be left to God. We have many examples in Scripture where couples were infertile for many years until the time God chose, so that He might be glorified. Some examples are Abraham and Sara (Genesis 21), Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 25:21), Jacob and Rachel (Genesis 30), Manoah and wife (parents of Samson – Judges 13), the Shunammite woman and her husband (2 Kings 4), Zacharias and Elisabeth (parents of John the Baptist – Luke 1:5-25). Therefore, I think it best to leave the matter in God’s hands. He is the One that “gives” children (Psalm 127:3). He has His reasons for giving or withholding children from a couple, and ultimately, He knows best.

I do not believe that we should meddle in God’s business. However, a Christian couple struggling with infertility needs to take the matter before the Lord before making such a serious, life-altering decision. Remember the trouble that resulted when Abraham and Sara tried to help God out by using Hagar to produce an heir. The problems from that failed plan plague Israel to this very day! Rachel tried to solve her infertility problem by giving her handmaid to Jacob, then Leah followed suit and did the same. When we examine Jacob’s life, it is anything but blissful! Things usually do not turn out well when we presume to help God out in matters that rightly belong to Him. It is always best to leave such things up to God. God has His reason for blessing some couples with children and not blessing others. The matter is best left to His discretion.

Notes:


[1]  “Born Gay” https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/07/15/born-gay/

[2]  “Reclaiming the Rainbow” https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/07/23/reclaiming-the-rainbow/

[3]  “The Rainbow”  https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/07/05/the-rainbow/

[4]  “Adam & Steve or Bev & Eve?”  https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/05/03/adam-steve-or-bev-eve/

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Creation, Current Events, Pro-life, Science, Theology